Janesville residents trade portion of property for less noise
JANESVILLE, Wis. — Sharon Heise has spent over two decades looking at the view and listening to the sound of cars driving by on Interstate 39/90 from her bedroom window. Her only perk was the view of her elm tree, but now that is all going to change.
“I’m hoping that the sound barrier will make up for the tree that I’m losing. Hopefully it will shield the property from the wind in all the seasons,” Heise said.
Last year Heise and her neighbors voted to approve nine noise barriers to cancel out the sound from the interstate that will double in size from four lanes to eight between Highway 26 and Avalon Road. What she didn’t know is to cancel out the sound, she’d have to part with a portion of her yard.
“There are some trees and some shrubs that need to be cut back to get the noise wall in, but nobody’s property is getting acquired or impacted directly due to the noise wall. It has to do with more of the widening of the interstate,” said Derek Potter, Department of Transportation project manager of the central segment.
In an effort to improve travel from Madison’s Beltline to the Illinois border, the DOT will need around 10 feet of her backyard to widen the interstate and put in the noise wall as a part of the expansion. The department plans on having a 12-foot shoulder at the edge of the completed interstate. A concrete safety barrier will be constructed at the shoulder with the noise wall behind it. Along with constructing noise walls, four interchanges along the central segment of the project will be reconstructed at Highway 26 and Highway 14 with changing traffic patterns and a roundabout on Highway 59.
“Our impacts to residents and business is very minimal considering how much wider will be expanded. We are not having to relocate any residential people or businesses,” Potter said.
Heise, who had plans to sell her house, said the noise walls are an improvement, but said with the changes she plans to wait until the construction is over to sell her property.
“I don’t know just what kind of a mess it’s going to be in my backyard, so I think it will be fine after everything is completed. It could’ve been worse. So 10 feet I can live with,” Heise said.
Federal and state highway money will be used to build the noise walls, according to the DOT’s website.
The department plans to have the impacts on affected homeowners property appraised; from there residents will be offered compensation. If they do not approve, residents will have 60 days to obtain their own appraisals at the cost of the DOT.
Potter said they are working with businesses and residents to make the construction project as smooth as possible by holding information sessions and providing updates and detour information on the website, www.i39-90.wi.gov.